Debris (2014)

The impetus for Debris was the Softail Harley Davidson that washed up on a remote beach in Haida Gwaii in April, 2012 – debris from the tsunami that followed the Tohuko Earthquake in Japan over a year previous. I photographed the motorcycle when it traveled through Victoria, British Columbia, and this experience encouraged me to explore the relationship between our coastal environments and the tsunami debris washing up on Vancouver Island’s shoreline. In the course of developing this project over the next two years, I became far less concerned with the places from which the debris originated, and focused instead on the objects themselves, the transitory nature they employ, and their overall relationship to the landscape they inhabit.

The printed images are gold-toned salt prints, a technique pioneered in the late 1830’s in England by William Henry Fox Talbot. In this process, watercolor paper is hand sensitized to light by floating it on the surface of salted water, drying it, floating it on a solution of silver nitrate and drying it again. It is then contact printed with a negative in direct sunlight. The connection between the salt printing process and the subject matter within the photographs is a key element to the project. In both cases saltwater acts as a conduit: transporting these objects to our shores and facilitating the transformation of plain watercolour paper into a photographic material.